Roma’s incredible form continues as they grabbed their eighth consecutive victory in all competitions. Mirko Vucinic’s solitary goal was the difference between them and Fiorentina as the Giallorossi now leapfrog Milan into second position, albeit with an extra game played. La Viola are having a difficult time since past one month and this defeat will puts their European ambitions in jeopardy.
Roma were on the back-foot for most of the match as Fiorentina laid siege to their goal. It was due to some atrocious finishing by the Gigliati and excellent saves by Julio Sergio that they did not concede. Most of the Giallorossi attacks were directed through their regista David Pizzaro. Barring a couple of runs, Mirko Vucinic was conspicuously absent throughout the first half and was guilty of missing a guilt-edged chance. His eventual goal canceled his poor work rate and finishing. The overall defending was decent in spite of several crosses being allowed from the right flank. That the midfield was overrun by Mario Bolatti and Riccardo Montolivo might be the cause of some concern for Roma.
Brazilian goalkeepers have been much maligned in the past, but this decade saw the rise of several Brazilians who have been excellent between the posts. Julio Sergio could add his name to this list if he continues to perform as he has done this year. He has already upstaged his compatriot Doni as first-choice goalkeeper and has been one of the key figures for Roma this year. In yesterday’s game, Julio Sergio produced no less than eight saves to keep a clean sheet and frustrate the Fiorentina forwards. Without a doubt he was Roma’s man-of-the-match.
Claudio Ranieri certainly got his tactics right for this game. The ‘Tinkerman’ has actually not tinkered with the squad for quite some time. He has not made drastic changes to the team and tactics for several games, injecting consistency and tenacity in the players. Ranieri had employed Francesco Totti in the lone striker position, but the captain was perhaps fatigued from the Coppa game against Udinese, and was getting frustrated from niggling fouls by Alessandro Gamberini, so he was replaced by Julio Baptista at half time. Ranieri knew that perhaps a draw would not be a disastrous result. Pushing forward for a goal would expose the backline to already rampant Fiorentina forwards and so the Giallorossi were content on neutralizing attacks, and so it was no surprise that Roma’s goal came from a corner, rather than open play. Near the end of normal time, Ranieri brought on Marco Andreolli for Vucinic to shore up the defence for five minutes of injury time.
Ranieri remained humble and gracious after the victory. Not only did he rule out challenging Inter for the Scudetto, he accepted that Roma were lucky on the night. Fiorentina sympathizers might suggest that the victory was undeserved. However, La Viola had their chances and failed to take them. If matches were decided on the basis of chances created, Luciano Spalletti and Arsene Wenger would have won many titles in past few years. Ignoring the controversy surrounding Vargas’ disallowed goal, Roma definitely deserved their victory.